Sermons

Summary: A summons to praise our God, with reasons attached.

LOOK UP AND PRAISE THE LORD

Psalm 147:1-11

Why “Praise the LORD” (Psalm 147:1)? There are two possible readings of the answer: “For it is good/ pleasant/ delightful to sing praises to our God” (cf. Psalm 92:1); or “For He is good/ gracious/ beautiful” (cf. Psalm 27:4). It could be both (cf. Psalm 135:3). Whichever way, a song of praise to the LORD is a fitting/ comely/ beautiful response to who He is, and who He is to us.

It is He who builds up/ rebuilds Jerusalem (Psalm 147:2). Remember what Jesus said, too: ‘I will build my church’ (Matthew 16:18). He gathers the outcasts (cf. Isaiah 56:8; John 10:16).

He heals/ binds up the broken-hearted (Psalm 147:3; cf. Isaiah 61:1). This also speaks of the work of Jesus (cf. Matthew 11:5), saving to the uttermost all who come to God by Him (Hebrews 7:25).

Yet who is this God? Well, look up! It is He who counts the number of the stars, calling them by name (Psalm 147:4; cf. Isaiah 40:26). We are reminded of the LORD God’s covenant encounter with Abraham: ‘so shall thy seed be’ (Genesis 15:5)!

He is great. He is mighty. Even His understanding is “without number” (Psalm 147:5; cf. Psalm 139:17-18).

There is hope, too, when we stand in awe before this mighty God. The Cross has taught us that the God who is ‘high and lifted up’ (Isaiah 6:1), is the same God who condescends to be ‘God with us/with us the God’ (Matthew 1:23). “He lifts up the humble, and casts the wicked to the ground” (Psalm 147:6).

There is a second summons to praise (Psalm 147:7). [And, incidentally, a third (Psalm 147:12), and a fourth (Psalm 147:20c).] The songs are joined with the gentle music of the harp.

Now we are looking up again: not now to the stars, but to the clouds. And from them to the rain, and from the rain to the growing grass (Psalm 147:8). The stars spoke of the on-going work of Creation, whereas the cycle of nature speaks of God’s unerring Providence over all things.

His care knows no bounds. He gives food to the beast (Psalm 147:9; cf. Psalm 145:15). He hears the cry of the raven’s young (cf. Job 38:41) - how much more will He hear the cry of His own (cf. Exodus 3:7). ‘Consider the ravens,’ says Jesus, ‘…how much better are you than the fowls?’ (Luke 12:24).

The LORD does not delight in the strength of the horse: He takes no pleasure in the legs of man (Psalm 147:10). Both of which He made: but the warning here seems to be not to trust in horses for might (Psalm 20:7-8), nor in our own supposed prowess (2 Corinthians 1:9). Without Him we are nothing.

He wants us to ‘be strong in the Lord, in the power of His might’ (Ephesians 6:10). ‘His strength is made perfect in our weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). And even that strength is not an end in itself, to serve our own petty purposes: but is renewed for His service as we wait on the LORD. Then we shall run, and not grow weary: then we shall walk and not faint (cf. Isaiah 40:31).

Perhaps that is the definition of waiting on the LORD: holding Him in awe, and hoping in His mercy. When we do this, then He takes pleasure in us (Psalm 147:11). Praise the LORD (Psalm 147:20c)!

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